No-Fuss, Instant Anthems for the Small Church Choir

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If you work with a small church choir, you know the challenges of having an anthem (or two!) ready every Sunday. Sometimes, you check the sign-out calendar and realize you won't have any Altos next week.

Sometimes, service plans change at the last minute.

And sometimes, you just need a no-fuss, simple solution for the Sunday anthem slot.

Perfect for Sundays when you haven't had a rehearsal, or times when you have a slimmer crowd (think holiday weekends or during the summer), here are a few quick ways to create no-fuss, instant anthems for your choir:

Hymns

Your hymnal is a great resource! Choose a crowd favorite, one with 4-part writing and singable lines, and experiment with ways to sing each verse:

- unison women or men
- additive by phrase (S, SA, SAT, SATB or S, ST, SAT, SATB)
- 4-part
- Sopranos singing the Tenor line as a descant, everyone else in unison on the melody
- one section singing the melody on text while the others sing the harmony parts on "ooh"
- Tenors singing the melody (Sopranos singing the Tenor part up an octave)

Use parts of a piano or organ hymn arrangement for a spruced up accompaniment.

Canons for Equal Voices

Choose a three- or four-voice canon such as Dona Nobis Pacem or the Tallis Canon and try some of the following:

- divide by voice part or divide into three equal groups of men and women's voices
- try adding in parts of the canon one at a time, then taking them away one at a time
- divide your choir into two parts and have an instrumentalist play the third part

Amens

Conclude your instant anthem with a short "Amen" to make it feel more complete. Again, your hymnal is a great resource!

- use a three-, four-, or even seven-fold Amen from the back of your hymnal
- pull an "Amen" section from the end of your favorite anthem (like P.C. Lutkin or Rutter's "The Lord Bless You and Keep You")

Other Resources

Of course, if you plan ahead, there are several collections of instant anthems that are great to keep on hand for all the reasons outlined above! Here are a few to consider:

Sunday Savers (Althouse) - five instant anthems for two-part mixed choir
Sunday Savers No. 2 (Althouse) - five two-part pieces for the church year (with rehearsal suggestions!)
Sunday Savers for SAB Choirs (Althouse) - five SAB pieces for the church year
One Rehearsal Wonders, Vol. 1 - eight two-part, SAB, and SATB anthems, plus a bonus benediction
One Rehearsal Wonders, Vol. 2 - two-part, SAB, and SATB arrangements of a few classic hymn favorites
One Rehearsal Wonders, Vol. 3 - 11 SAB and two-part anthems for any occasion
One Rehearsal Wonders, Vol. 4 (Advent/Christmas) - 10 two-part, SAB, and SATB arrangements for Advent/Christmas
Instant Anthems of Praise - six two-part anthems for mixed voices
The Instant Worship Choir Collection - 20 SATB arrangements
Ready, Set, Sing! (Althouse) - five SAB anthems for anytime of the year

What are your favorite resources or ideas for instant anthems?

Read more: Instant Anthem 1.0

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